You are reading

5Pointz Developer Surprised By Community Board 2’s Ask for a Library

5Pointz Towers (Photo: Queens Post)

Oct. 7, 2019 By Christian Murray

Community Board 2 approved a series of zoning modifications to the 5Pointz towers Thursday but only after much debate–and a call for the project to include a 5,000 square foot library.

The board took two votes on the contentious plan before agreeing to approve the zoning changes. The modifications—which involve an extra floor to each tower and various tweaks — were approved on the second vote but only after a library was included.

Jerry Wolkoff, the controversial 5Pointz developer, sat at the back of the room during the vote and was surprised by the board’s decision.

“I went there for a minor modification and this library came out of nowhere,” Wolkoff said after the vote. “Suddenly I’m in charge of a library. I don’t know how this relates to me.”

Wolkoff presented his revised plans earlier in the meeting, which call for 254 studios, 595 one bedrooms, 261 two bedrooms and 12 three bedrooms. The number of units was higher than the 1,000 units he indicated when he was granted a special zoning permit in 2013. However, he reduced the number of 3-bedroom units, so the floor area still complies with the permit.

The initial vote was to approve the modifications based on Wolkoff’s pledge to build 220 affordable units per a 421-a tax abatement; pay service workers a prevailing wage; and increase art studio/gallery space. The board’s Land Use Committee recommended that the full board approve the motion.

The board, however, rejected the motion by a vote of 20-8, with board member Sheila Lewandowski arguing that Wolkoff was providing the community with no real benefit under such an agreement.

She said that Wolkoff was getting tax credits on the 220 affordable units and that he needed to give the community more.

Wolkoff Presentation

But board member Stephen Cooper disagreed with Lewandowski and advocated for the Land Use Committee’s recommendation. “It’s a minor modification and if we reject it the city will pass it anyway, I assure you. It is a minor modification…It’s a done deal.”

Cooper said the modifications were hardly noticeable and the building is the same size as what was put forward in 2013—just a slightly different shape.

But Lewandowski insisted Wolkoff had to give something back to the community in lieu of the approval.

Wolkoff presentation

Lewandowski said that the Court Square library that is located in the Citigroup building is slated to close and that Wolkoff could provide the space at $1 a year in his building like the bank had for many years. The library’s current lease is ending.

The board voted in favor of Lewandowski’s proposal, 24-to-5, which included the provisions put forward by the Land Use committee.

The board’s recommendation is advisory and the City Planning Commission will make the determination as to whether the library should be a requirement of the zoning modifications. The commission, however, has a long history of approving plans counter to the recommendations of community boards.

Wolkoff’s zoning application–deemed a “minor modification” by City Planning–does not have to go before the city council for a vote or before the borough president.

Last week’s approval came about two months after the board rejected Wolkoff’s initial application. The board argued at the time that he had not been forthcoming in his application and wrote a strongly worded to the City Planning Commission outlining why his modification should be denied.

The rejection was not based on the plan itself but on Wolkoff’s perceived lack of transparency. For instance, Wolkoff changed the unit mix from what was put forward in the 2013 special permit. He was slow to inform the board what the changes were—even though they still complied with the special permit.

Wolkoff, who apologized for not being responsive to the board two months ago, was perplexed by Thursday’s vote.

“I had been approved by the Land Use Committee last week and then it goes before the full board I’m told I should be building a library. Who knows, I’ll look into it.”

Court Square Library (Google)

email the author: [email protected]


Click for Comments 
LIC Resident and Neighbor

What’s the point of another library in the neighborhood? This has the fingerprints of our librarian in Chief all over it. Play the game, do the dance – offer them apartments for their son’s, daughters, nieces and nephews.

LIC Resident and Neighbor

What’s the point of another library in the neighborhood? This has the fingerprints of our librarian in Chief all over it. Play the game, do the dance – offer them apartments for their son’s, daughters, nieces and nephews.

Gargamel Wolkoff

And they say that the banks are greedy. Even a greedy bank let the library operate for $1 rents. Just take a look at this miserly vulture. Makes me lose my appetite

John O'Reilly

Did the Board’s resolution include a provision that all areas of the proposed library at 5Pointz be accessible to all patrons, regardless of mobility limitations, unlike the Van Bramer inspired, way too costly, delayed for years, library edifice in Hunters Point?


Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Popular places where you can watch the Super Bowl in Queens

Feb. 2, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi

Hey, football fans! Game time is fast approaching, and across the city and here in Queens, you can feel the excitement brewing as the two teams prepare to take the field on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 12. So, kick back and watch the big game, and don’t miss Rihanna’s exciting performance during halftime. 

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Op-Ed: This Year’s State Budget Must Prioritize Climate, Jobs, and Justice for New York

Op-Ed, Jan. 30, By Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas

In a time of rampant economic inequality and environmental injustice, it is easy to feel defeated.  Here in Queens and across New York State, however, communities are organizing for a better future. New Yorkers from different backgrounds and with different lived experiences are proving that we can build community, organize, and create a future that reflects our shared values.

LaGuardia Community College receives federal funding to expand vocational training for the unemployed

Jan. 27, 2023 By Bill Parry

LaGuardia Community College recently received more than $400,000 in federal funding to enhance and expand vocational training for underemployed New Yorkers in a city that is still working to recover from COVID-19 pandemic-induced job loss. The support was secured by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and former Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.